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Larry Schneider: Ornettology

C. Andrew Hovan By

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A very adaptable saxophonist whose major claim to fame was a brief time spent with Horace Silver back in the late ‘70s, Larry Schneider is not as well known as he should be. Part of the post-Coltrane movement that produced such players as Michael Brecker and Bob Berg, this prolific sideman has been leading a series of recordings as of late for the SteepleChase label. Ornettology is the latest to see an American release and it not only serves as a tribute to jazz legend Ornette Coleman but also provides an ideal forum for Schneider’s expansive forays.

Tune selection by Larry and the guys consists of some of Ornette’s earliest gems. Five out of the eight tracks are compositions that appeared on Coleman’s first Contemporary albums from 1958 and 1959. The other three tracks, “Chronology,” “Peace,” and “Lonely Woman,” come from the classic Atlantic release, The Shape of Jazz To Come. While the same pianoless format that marked Coleman’s work is utilized here, Schneider left his alto at home and instead chose to use his tenor saxophone.

All of the performances are a success, with the Latin-tinged “Jayne” a particular favorite. Scott Wendholt and Schneider get a great blend together and speak eloquently in their respective solo spots. Schneider, for the uninitiated, utilizes a stout and full-bodied tone and develops his lines in a very willful manner, using space and tonal variance to great effect. Billy Drummond is the glue that holds things together and the way he fills space with his interactive drumming also spurs the others on in a way that has become a Drummond trademark.

Adding to the overall enjoyment of this set, engineer Devin Emke utilizes the room echo in a way that makes the ensemble sound larger than the mere four pieces actually involved. Miking of the drums is also superb, with the detailed nuances further illuminating Drummond’s already meticulous tuning job. In the final analysis, Schneider further validates the venerability of Coleman’s timeless writing while communicating openly in his own voice.


Track Listing: The Disguise, Peace, Jayne, When Will The Blues Leave, Rejoicing, Lonely Woman, The Blessing, Chronology

Personnel: Larry Schneider- tenor saxophone, Scott Wendholt- trumpet, Mike Richmond- bass, Billy Drummond- drums

Title: Ornettology | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: SteepleChase Records


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